January 31, 2005

The Business of their Lives

These people took care of the most important business of their lives with such great courage in the face of death as to make our little fears about doing what we know we should do to take care of the business of our own lives seem mean and paltry. 

This is what Mohammed on iraqthemodel said after voting.

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.  We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that. From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full! Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends. Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.  I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box! These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.

It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.
Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.

  Long Line Iraq

  Man Being Carried To Polls

   Iraqi Voter

  Woman Finger Ink Drying

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 PM | Permalink

January 29, 2005

Learning Goodness

The most moving piece I've read on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is by Aharon Applefeld in the Guardian. which I wouldn't have read had not Norman Geras written an outstanding post about this outstanding piece. 

To put this in some context, Applefeld was deported to a concentration camp when he was eight.

In January 1945, 60 years ago, the wheels of destruction in Auschwitz stood still. The few people left alive describe the prevailing silence as the silence of death. Those who came out of hiding after the war, out of the forests and monasteries, also describe the shock of liberation as freezing, crippling silence. Nobody was happy. The survivors stood at the fences in amazement. Human language, with all its nuances, turned into a mute tongue.... 

....But most survivors - myself, and especially the young - were outside the realm of faith, and from the first stages of the liberation we were engaged with the question of how to go on living a life with meaning. The temptation to forget and be forgotten, and to assimilate back into normal life, lurked for every survivor... 

How to live a life of meaning is the question we all face as we mature.  But where is meaning in the presence of evil?

......A doctor who survived, from a religious background, who sailed to Israel with us in June 1946, told us: "We didn't see God when we expected him, so we have no choice but to do what he was supposed to do: we will protect the weak, we will love, we will comfort. From now on, the responsibility is all ours."

Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, writes: Be the Light in A Short History of Good and Evil and the Good You Can Do. I was particularly struck her summary of Hannah Arendt's interviews with Eichmann.


Hannah Arendt, in her groundbreaking book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, discovered what she least expected and least wanted to face.  During multiple interviews with Eichmann, the German Jewish author discovered that he was not a monster. He was not even an anti-Semitic maniac or a twisted, distorted demon of a man.  Eichmann, she said, was a man who simply wanted to get ahead, to succeed in his life, to please his superiors, to be respected by his peers, to do his job well, to be patriotic, devoted, and responsible. Indeed, he had good intentions and he had learned obedience. 
Somehow, though, he had not learned goodness. 


He was not a monster, he had just not learned goodness.  Chittister continues:

If the banality of evil in this time is to be confronted, you and I must come to understand that what the world is really missing is us. The banality of evil rests on our bland unawareness that we are the only thing between it and success. The fact is that every holocaust begins or ends with me and you.

The good in evil is not an argument that evil is good. The good in evil is only the good we bring to it, the good we do in the face of it.

Mahatma Gandhi reduced this to its very essence.  We have to be what we want to see.
That's something every one of us can do.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 PM | Permalink

Voting with Heart

Today, I feel the same excitement I did when the Berlin Wall fell, when the Afghanis voted, and when the Ukranians voted again.  It moves me to tears to think that the Iraqis will be voting tomorrow and braving threats of death to do so.

This is what Iraqi blogger Mohammed wrote yesterday at Iraq the Model.

Less than 48 hours left before the people of Iraq experience free decision making for the first time in their country's modern history.  It's a moment of pure freedom but still surrounded by lots of dangers just like any beautiful rose surrounded by spikes.  There is fear from the enemies of freedom who have their weapons already prepared to intimidate us and stop us from choosing our future.  But at the same time we're full of hope as we know that we've put our feet on the right track and even if we make a bad choice once, we know that we will have the chance to reevaluate the situation again. No more tyrants ruling the country for decades..... 

On Sunday, the sun will rise on the land of Mesopotamia. I can't wait, the dream is becoming true and I will stand in front of the box to put my heart in it. 

We are with you and all the brave Iraqis who vote tomorrow for a new beginning. May their courage be a beacon to all the world.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink

January 28, 2005

When Beer Can Save Your Life

If you are ever in a car and trapped by an avalanche, check your available resources.
You may be able to escape death like this man did.

Man peed way out of avalanche
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it. Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.

He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out. But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it.

Rule: carry lots of beer in your car when driving in the mountains during wintertime.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 PM | Permalink

Quaker powerpoint

Each soul has a unique spiritual DNA, but life has a way of separating us from our true selves writes Parker Palmer. 
All of us live more or less divided lives and all of us yearn for wholeness.  When the pain of living such a life becomes too great, the inner journey towards wholeness begin.  Finding Your Soul is a wonderful exploration of the soul's journey and you can't beat Palmer's  "Quaker powerpoint."

All the great spiritual traditions want to awaken us to the fact that we help to create the reality in which we live. And all of them ask two questions that are intended to help keep us awake: What are we sending from within ourselves out into the world, and what impact is it having “out there”? What is the world sending back at us, and what impact is it having “in here”?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:56 PM | Permalink

Lessons from the Snow

Henry James who came from Boston once said that "summer afternoon" were the most beautiful words in the English language. I used to think "snow day" was  - until this week.

  Boston Blizzardphoto via Drudge

I'm in Boston which in case you don't know is experiencing record snowfalls this year.  Since Monday, I've spent hours shoveling every day and lifting literally tons of snow from the back porch and walkway and driveway to ever taller piles on either side.  I feel as though I've done nothing else this week.  So what lessons have I learned?

1. It's quiet when it snows and you can marvel at its beauty which you should do pretty quickly because soon enough it's just that white sh*!.
2. The first thing you must do is shovel a path for the dog.
3. No matter which way the winds blow, the biggest drifts are always just where you must shovel.  6 feet of drifts against the back door and garage.  You have to figure out how to get out of the house.
4. The more you shovel, the harder it gets.  That's because you are lifting 20-25 lbs of snow ever higher on to the growing piles.
5. I now understand what "hemmed in" really means.  Walking anywhere means are being surrounded by towering piles of snow.  The walkways get narrower and narrower as the piles get higher. 
6. When walkways or driveways get encrusted with piles of ice, you have to use an ice chipper to chip around the edges where the ice is most vulnerable.  While using ice-melting crystals can speed this up, the chipper is an indispensable tool to get the whole thing done faster. 
7. Nobody below the Mason Dixon line has ever heard of an ice chipper that you use on the driveway.
8. Every time the town plow comes by, you have to shovel again.  And that's the hardest, heaviest snow, impossible to drive over.  This can happen two or three times a day
9. Shoveling is never over until the spring comes.  Just when you think you're all done, snow will fall off the roof with terrifying thuds to remind you that snow, that white sh*! can kill.  I don't even want to talk about the dagger-like icicles .
10. It helps a lot to have a neighbor who, when she's home, let's you borrow her snowblower.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Faces of Meth

Never have I seen such dramatic evidence of the damage drugs can do as can be seen in the faces of meth photo gallery.
Faced with an epidemic of metaphetamine abuse, in a state where meth use is becoming increasingly deadly, reporter Joseph Rose  wrote about the faces of meth in a special report for the Oregonian. 

In 2003, the state medical examiner recorded 78 meth-related deaths, a 20 percent jump from the year before, and 56 percent higher than in 2001. Only heroin, with 100 deaths, claimed more lives last year.

Jail Deputy Bret King started collecting through jailhouse photos and mug shots  to show the before and after effects of the drug on its users.  On the left  is Theresa Baxter's mug shot when she was arrested for identity theft and fraud,  On the right is Theresa 3 1/2 years later, a meth addict, in her words like a zombie, one of the living dead.

  Before And After

Don't ever try it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2005

The Four Agreements

Don Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements which are his rules for life

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word- Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally - Nothing others do is because of you. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best- Your best is going to change from moment to moment / it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:45 PM | Permalink

The Four Agreements

Don Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements which are his rules for life

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word- Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally - Nothing others do is because of you. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions - Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best- Your best is going to change from moment to moment / it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:44 PM | Permalink

January 24, 2005

Cascading towards Alzheimer's

For some reason, people seem to be more afraid of dementia then heart disease. Apparently, losing one's mind is more like a living death than dealing with heart disease.

Well, it turns out that taking care of your heart will lessen the chances of dementia.  Big time. 

Don't wait. Do it now.

The biggest cardio risk factors if you are middle-aged are:

  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • smoking

Each of these cardiovascular risk factors were associated with a 20% to 40% increased risk according to a report in the January 25 issue of Neurology.  The researchers collected data on 8845 men and women aged 40 to 44 from 1964 to 1973, then looked at their medical records from January 1994 to April 2003. 

The study author Rachel Whitmer said that each of the cardiovascular risk factors were predictive.
When they looked at a combination of the risk factors, they found the risk for dementia increased from 27 percent for one risk factor to 237 percent for having all four risk factors, compared with having no risk factors.

Dr. Samuel Gandy, vice chairman of the National Medical and Scientific Advisory Council of the Alzheimer's Association said

We know that Alzheimer's begins at least 10 or more years before the first clinical signs are evident.  It is possible that setting that cascade in motion in midlife may be like a runaway train. It may be difficult to get it back on the track.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 PM | Permalink

Doctors Report

The stories below are apparently true yet I don't know their origin.  If you do, let me know, so I can properly credit whoever put together this hilarious compilation of medical anecdotes.

A man comes into the ER and yells,    "My wife's going to have her baby in the cab!"    I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's dress,  and began to take off her underwear.    Suddenly I noticed that there were several cabs, and I was in the  wrong one.   
-- Dr. Mark MacDonald, San Antonio, TX   
At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and  slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall.    Big breaths," I instructed.    Yes, they used to be," remorsefully replied the patient.   
--Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle, WA   
One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that  her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarct. Not more than  five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family  that he had died of a "massive internal fart."     
--Dr. Susan Steinberg, Manitoba, Canada     
I was performing a complete physical, including the visual acuity  test. I placed the patient twenty feet from the chart and began, "Cover  your right eye with your hand." He read the 20/20 line perfectly.    Now your left." Again, a flawless read.    Now both," I requested. There was silence. He couldn't even read the  large E on the top line. I turned and discovered that he had done  exactly what I had asked; he was standing there with both his eyes  covered.  I was laughing too hard to finish the exam.   
--Dr. Matthew Theodropolous, Worcester, MA   
During a patient's two week follow-up appointment with his  cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble  with one of his medications.    "Which one?"  I asked.    "The patch.    The nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I'm  running out of places to put it!"    I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn't see.  Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body!  Now the instructions  include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.     
--Dr. Rebecca St. Clair, Norfolk, VA       
While acquainting myself witha new elderly patient, I asked, "How long  have you been bed-ridden?" After a look of complete confusion she  answered .    Why, not for about twenty years -- when my husband was alive."     
--Dr. Steven Swanson, Corvallis, OR
I was caring for a woman from Kentucky and asked, So, how's your  breakfast this morning?"    It's very good, except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can't seem to get  used to the taste," the patient replied    I then asked to see the jelly and the woman produced a foil packet  labeled "KY Jelly."   
--Dr. Leonard Kransdorf, Detroit, MI     
And finally.  A new, young MD doing his residency in OB was quite embarrassed  performing female pelvic exams.    To cover his embarrassment he had unconsciously formed a habit of  whistling softly.    The middle aged lady upon whom he was performing this exam suddenly  burst out laughing and further embarrassed him.    He looked up from his work and sheepishly said, "I'm sorry. Was I  tickling you?"      She replied, "No doctor, but the song you were whistling was 'I wish I  was an Oscar Meyer Wiener." 
--won't admit his name
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 PM | Permalink

One vision of the future

Well, well.  If  Viagra  can be good for men's hearts.  And alcohol good for women's brains.
Does that mean that the future will be a strange place of drunk old ladies and horny old men?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2005

Time to Ride?

"Enough Dreaming.  It's Time to Ride." Are you an aging boomer with an unsatisfied lust to take to the open road on your Harley?  Well, slow down.  The over 40 motorcycle deaths have tripled in the past decade to 1674 in 2003 at the same time deaths of riders under 30 have dropped  slightly to 1161.  Safety experts suspect older motorcycle riders with a lot of money to spend are buying more and more powerful machines than their aging bodies can handle.

"It's really kind of astonishing. The ages of these fatalities are so high. You would think it would be all of the young kids on those fast bikes, but it's not," said Carl Hallman, highway safety coordinator with the Maine Department of Public Safety.

   Combo Harley

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:24 PM | Permalink

January 21, 2005

Stockholders vs Workers

Last August Bernard Condon wrote about "The Coming Pension Crisis"   in Forbes  to say that 13 companies in the S&P 500 owe its workers more in pension payments than the companies would be worth in liquidation.
They are:

  • Delta Air Lines (DAL)
  • Lucent Technologies (LU)
  • Goodyear (GT)
  • Delphi (DPH)
  • Navistar (NAV)
  • AES (AES)
  • Avaya (AV)
  • Maytag (MYG)
  • Hercules (HPC)
  • UST (UST)
  • Allegheny Technologies (ATI)
  • Avon Products (AVP)
  • Ford Motor (F)

If six months later the picture hasn't changed, how do these companies continue to attract investors?
 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:04 PM | Permalink

The Stress of Lawyers

Did you know that lawyers are more likely to be alcohol abusers than other professionals?  I didn't either until I read  "I'll Drink to That. On Second Thought" by Bruce McEwn over at Adam Smith Esquire.   Alcohol abuse among lawyers is 18% vs 10% nationwide according to the ABA.  Adam Smith Esq  has two thoughts as to why:
1. Lawyers don't control what they work on but instead work on goals determined by others.
2. The role of lawyers is to be risk averse, cautionary, even negative.

No wonder, I don't practice law anymore.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink

Ta-da or Hipster

If you keep lists on your computer, you might want to check out Ta-da lists .  You can share your "to do" lists, make lists for other people, share lists with the world or subscribe to your own lists via RSS. 

Personally, I have enough to do lists and I don't want anyone to see how little I've gotten done on them.  I've just started keeping lists on blank index cards after I learned about the Hipster PDA.  I love being able to shuffle them around on my desk.  I can see a lot of what I have to do and rearrange priorities that way.  In my small notebook, I note appointments and what I have done.  Somehow I feel better looking at what I've done than what I haven't.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:08 AM | Permalink

Little Opportunity in Crisis

You've all heard the saying that the Chinese word for crisis means danger + opportunity.  Well,  it doesn't according to one sinologist and never did.    Victor Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania says

There is a widespread public misperception, particularly among  the New Age sector, that the Chinese word for "crisis" is  composed of elements that signify "danger" and "opportunity." I  first encountered this curious specimen of oriental wisdom about  ten years ago at an altitude of 35,000 feet sitting next to an  American executive. He was intently studying a bound volume that  had adopted this notorious formulation as the basic premise of  its method for making increased profits even when the market is  falling. At that moment, I didn't have the heart to disappoint my gullible neighbor who was blissfully imbibing what he assumed  were the gems of Far Eastern sagacity enshrined within the pages  of his workbook. Now, however, the damage from this kind of  pseudo-profundity has reached such gross proportions that I feel  obliged, as a responsible Sinologist, to take counteraction....

...Thus, a wēijī is  indeed a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things  start to go awry. A wēijī indicates a perilous situation when one should be especially  wary. It is  a juncture when one goes looking for  advantages and benefits. In a crisis, one wants above all to save  one's skin and neck! Any would-be guru who advocates opportunism  in the face of crisis should be run out of town on a rail, for  his / her advice will only compound the danger of the crisis.


Via  Asymmetrical Information

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:47 AM | Permalink

January 20, 2005

Have One on Me

Women who drink a small amount of wine, beer or spirits every day are less likely to see their mental powers fade as they grow older.

The New England Journal of Medicine reports today on a study of more than 12,000 elderly women that found that those who consumed light to moderate amounts of alcohol daily had about a 20 percent lower risk of experiencing problems with their mental abilities later in life.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

Don't Be a Jerk and Flirt with Death

I've long operated with only three rules of life:

1. Wear your seatbelt. - In my second year of law school, the Suffolk County Medical Examiner came and showed us autopsy photos including one of someone who died in a parking lot driving at 5 mph because he wasn't wearing a seat belt.  I have never forgotten the power of that lecture.
2. Don't leave the carton of milk on the table - this is from my mother who somehow thought that any milk not refrigerated could grow lethal micro-organisms in just minutes. Somehow this admonition settled in my very core and I'm acutely uncomfortable if any milk carton is out in the open air for more than 20 seconds, just slightly longer than the rule that states food-that's- dropped- on-the-rule-is-okay-if- you-pick-it-up-rightaway.
3. Be kind.  This from my father  who encapsulated much of the world's wisdom in these two words.  We could do anything we wanted so long as we were kind.

I'm sad to report that Derek Kieper didn't follow the first rule and this 21 year student last fall wrote an editorial arguing against the Nebraska mandatory seat-belt law. 

And if I want to be the jerk that flirts with death and rides around with my seat belt off, I should be able to do that, too.

Sadly, this "smart, funny, intense young man" was killed yesterday when the Ford Explorer he was riding in fell off an icy interstate and rolled over several times before landing in a ditch.  Kieper wasn't wearing a seatbelt.  The other two passengers in the car were and they survived.  I'm so sorry for his family.

via Best of the Web.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 AM | Permalink

January 19, 2005

Some fools get $10 million bonuses

Tired of the idiots at work?  Here's a safe place to vent.  I work with fools allows you to share anonymously work-related stories.  It could become a Page Six  for the Dilbert crowd.

I work for a major financial institution once known for using bleeding-edge strategic technology to make dramatic profits in the market. About 3 years ago management decided that technology was not strategic, technology was a commodity, yada, yada, yada. Anyone who felt differently was pushed out the door. Management arranged to outsource the entire global technology organization to another major corporation known more for their commercials professing their ability to provide technology services on demand, than for their ability to actually deliver said services, for a savings in excess of $2.5 billion. Of course our CEO received a $10 million bonus for this fantastic feat of magic. Three years later, after both companies experience exorbitant and unplanned technology-related costs for substandard technical services, the same management announces that technology is strategic (duh!) and should be developed and retained in-house. Furthermore, management has budgeted $5 billion to insource the jobs (not the people) over the next 3 years. Our CEO is receiving another $10 million bonus this year for bringing the technology jobs back in house; the architects of the original disastrous outsourcing, are now orchestrating the new operational model involving insourcing.
Who's the CEO and what company could this be?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:43 PM | Permalink

Why People Love Hospice

Over at Grandrounds 18, a collection of the best medical posts in the past week, a wonderful one about why people love hospice.   Did you know that 49% of the population has had experience with hospice and 98% of them had positive experiences according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization?

When people stop me on the street tell me how wonderful hospice is and how much we helped one of their family members or friends, I usually say, “We’re the experts at the one thing that nobody wants to be an expert at.” I believe that simple statement is why hospice is so well received. 

If you have a decent sized family, odds are someone in your family is going to go through a terminal illness in your lifetime. If you have many friends, again, odds are one of them is going to be sick and eventually die. Morbid I know, but that does not mean it’s not true. Now, when that happens, will you know everything you need to know to help? Will you know who to call to get medical equipment? Will you be able to get the doctor to make the seemingly daily medication changes as the illness progresses? Will you be able to give them their bath and change their clothes? Will you know what to say when they get scared? Do you know about the resources in your community that can help in this tough situation? The answer to most or all of these questions is probably no, and that makes you normal. Why would you know these things? Why would you want to? How many times in your life will you need to know these things? Once or twice, three at the most. Few people are an expert at the dying process, and even fewer want to be. Hospice workers are experts at the one thing nobody wants to be an expert at. 

Part of this is the team concept. Every hospice patient gets a nurse, an aide, a social worker, and a chaplain. All of them (unless they are new to the job) have done this before. There is very little you can ask for or say to a hospice worker that they have not heard before. I’m sure it will be the first time you have said it, but it’s not the first time they have heard it. It is the nature of hospice that what you are experiencing for the first and possibly for the last time the hospice team will experience twice that day or week. People need answers to their questions. They need someone who can help when it is needed. They need someone who understands. That is what hospice does. 

We are the experts at the one thing nobody wants to be an expert at, and for that reason people love hospice and the people who do it for a living.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 AM | Permalink

January 18, 2005

Screening for Distress/ I will survive

One problem that doctors often overlook when treating patients with cancer is the anxiety and depression patients feel.    While distress at a diagnosis of cancer is normal, certain types of distress or undue distress can interfere with treatment. 

As Amy Marcus writes in the Wall St Journal

Patients may find it difficult to even get out of bed, much less attend appointments and chemotherapy sessions. Some distraught patients avoid acknowledging their disease and cancel appointments. And distress can cause sleeplessness and confusion that may result in failure to take their medication properly, potentially lowering their chances of a cure.

The American Cancer Society along with 19 major cancer centers have released guidelines for evaluating a patient's sense of distress with a simple, rapid  screening test.    The guidelines are free and can be found at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. They are designed to be self-administered, helping patients and their families help themselves.

According to the NCCN, red flags for undue distress include 

  • Excessive worries
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Confused thinking
  • Despair or loss of hope,
  • Severe family problems (marriage crisis; child having problems in school)
  • Spiritual crisis (loss of faith, feeling life has no meaning)
  • Severe financial problems

Those who score highly are urged to consider seeing a counselor, joining  a support group, trying meditation, exploring spiritual beliefs, keeping a journal,  or creating a support group of family and friends.  To see how blogs can help create that support network, check out Sandee's blog Day Without Rain.

Sandee who has breast cancer writes so well and movingly about her battle that she was a finalist in the Best of Blogs for 2004.  Here's a sample:

Cancer continues to be such a wild ride,  When they said the word “cancer" back in 1998, within one second, the next word in my head was” death”, the life I knew was instantly gone & where I had a future, I now had a question mark." So many emotions … I felt like my body failed me because I had cancer. I tried to remove myself from everyone that I loved, because I figured if I did that, I wouldn't hurt anyone. I was wrong! Cancer has thought me so much ...
I've learned that...
~If I didn't have the friends & family I have, I wouldn't have been able to get through the treatment. ~I need to trust people especially my doctors.
~Priorities get crystal clean, you don't sweat the small stuff & everything is small stuff compared to cancer.
~I was able to find hope and strength in the worst of times.
~Beauty is in the simplest things.
~I came out of it a different person -- stronger, better & not bitter.
~Love is what gets you through
… And I keep learning every single second of the day!  So I guess having cancer has changed me for the better, I wish I could have changed a different way, but I'll take this way if necessary. Cancer is a disease of LIFE, not just a disease of the body. And though others want you back to normal, normal is different now. It’s not about being strong; it’s about being grateful for every second. My only wish is that I am a glimmer of hope to all those that think that cancer means “death” it doesn’t!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:59 PM | Permalink

January 17, 2005

What if your medical history is wrong

If you apply for certain kinds of life and health insurance, you most likely have given the insurers permission to send their personal info to a central clearinghouse where other insurers can access it. If you have had cancer treatments or chronic conditions or are a risky driver or skydiver, your info may be in this database and likely to stay there for at least 7 years.

Thanks to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, you can get a free copy of your report once a year if you call 866-692-6901.  Some 9000 people saw their records last year and 300-400 of them found errors.

Hat tip to Ron Lieber, Quick Fix at the Wall St Journal, January 11, 2005 (no link, sorry, subscription required)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:39 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2005

Identities Lost at Sea

They survived the tsunami, now comes the hard part writes Amitav Ghosh on the op ed page of today's New York Times.  Refugees in the emergency camps in Port  Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, came there from different parts of the Indian mainland in search of land and opportunity.

For to be middle class in India, or anywhere else, is to be kept afloat on a life raft of paper: identity cards, drivers licenses, ration cards, school certificates, checkbooks, certificates of life insurance and records of deposits.

An earthquake would have left remnants to rummage through; floods and hurricanes would have allowed time for survivors to pack up their essential documents. The tsunami, in the suddenness of its onslaught, allowed for no preparations: not only did it destroy the survivors' homes and families; it also robbed them of all the evidentiary traces of their place in the world.

And this, more than anything, was the cause of the panic that morning at the Nirmala School.... the refugees reduced their demands to a single, modest query: could they have some paper and a few pens? No sooner had this request been met than another uproar broke out: those who'd been given pens and paper now became the center of the siege. People began to push and jostle, clamoring to have their names written down. It seemed to occur to them simultaneously that identity was now no more than a matter of assertion, and nothing seemed to matter more than to create a trail of paper. Somehow they had come to believe that on this, the random scribbling of a name on a sheet of paper in a refugee camp, depended the eventual reclamation of a life.

The question that comes immediately to my mind is how any of us would survive without our computers or our important papers, vital documents, credit and ATM cards, driver's licenses, passports, bank account numbers, and the contact numbers of our family and friends.    Consider what the victims of floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and mudslides must do to put their lives back together.

Mudslide California

Few of us are prepared to deal with any sort of an emergency and that's why I'm writing a book - to tell people what they have to do to be prepared to handle just about anything.  I'll be posting chapters on this site for comments.
More anon.  Right now, I'm in the process of revamping both blogs which should debut next week

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 AM | Permalink

January 14, 2005

21st Century Lost and Found

You know how easy it is to lose stuff.  I 'm still looking for a pair of eyeglasses I lost a week ago.  I don't even want to think about the cell phone, PDA, wallet, backpack, camera and laptop that I carry around with me.  Fortunately, Stuffbak has.

Stuffbac is a comprehensive system for identifying and returning lost property.  You buy a package of labels, attach them to the devices you might lose, activate the labels through their website and then rest easy.  If you then lose something, the label allows anyone to drop off the item at the nearest UPS store or have Airborne Express pick it up directly.

All you pay is the shipping charges and any extra reward you want to give.  Stuffbak gives the finder 20 free stuffbak labels.

  Stuffbak

Sounds like a cool tool.  Nice testimonials on the Stuffbak site.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:32 PM | Permalink

Scientist Collaborates with Dalai Lama

Like people who don't believe that adults continue to develop throughout their lives, not so long ago, scientists believed that connections among brain cells were fixed early in life and did not change in adulthood.  Buddhists however have contended for centuries that meditation can change the workings of the brain.

That mental training through meditation can change the inner workings and circuitry of the brain has been proven by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, who published the newest results of his meditation study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in November.  Davidson spoke  to Marc Kaufman at the Washington Post 

"What we found is that the longtime practitioners showed brain activation on a scale we have never seen before.  Their mental practice is having an effect on the brain in the same way golf or tennis practice will enhance performance." It demonstrates, he said, that the brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in ways few people can imagine."

What makes the study even more interesting is that it's the result of a collaboration with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

From the Mark Kaufman article:

The Dalai Lama first invited Davidson to his home in Dharamsala, India, in 1992 after learning about Davidson's innovative research into the neuroscience of emotions.

The Tibetans have a centuries-old tradition of intensive meditation and, from the start, the Dalai Lama was interested in having Davidson scientifically explore the workings of his monks' meditating minds. Three years ago, the Dalai Lama spent two days visiting Davidson's lab.   

The Dalai Lama ultimately dispatched eight of his most accomplished practitioners to Davidson's lab to have them hooked up for electroencephalograph (EEG) testing and brain scanning. The Buddhist practitioners in the experiment had undergone training in the Tibetan Nyingmapa and Kagyupa traditions of meditation for an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 hours, over time periods of 15 to 40 years. As a control, 10 student volunteers with no previous meditation experience were also tested after one week of training.  The monks and volunteers were fitted with a net of 256 electrical sensors and asked to meditate for short periods.

Thinking and other mental activity are known to produce slight, but detectable, bursts of electrical activity as large groupings of neurons send messages to each other, and that's what the sensors picked up. Davidson was especially interested in measuring gamma waves, some of the highest-frequency and most important electrical brain impulses.    Both groups were asked to meditate, specifically on unconditional compassion. Buddhist teaching describes that state, which is at the heart of the Dalai Lama's teaching, as the "unrestricted readiness and availability to help living beings." The researchers chose that focus because it does not require concentrating on particular objects, memories or images, and cultivates instead a transformed state of being.   

Davidson said that the results unambiguously showed that meditation activated the trained minds of the monks in significantly different ways from those of the volunteers. Most important, the electrodes picked up much greater activation of fast-moving and unusually powerful gamma waves in the monks, and found that the movement of the waves through the brain was far better organized and coordinated than in the students.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:46 PM | Permalink

January 12, 2005

Blushing with Pride

In this week's Carnival of the Vanities #121 at Multiple Mentality,  Josh Cohen has collected the best posts around the blogosphere.  It's well worth visiting to see the variety of posts and the diversity of bloggers out there.

Here's what he had to say about my post Ship of Pearl, Coils of Time.

There’s a picture in this post from Jill Fallon of Legacy Matters that looks like a giant insect. But that’s just on the surface. The post itself takes us from beautiful images to an understanding of the world. The most unique Carnival post that I think I’ve ever read.

I'm blushing with pride. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:10 PM | Permalink

Cottage Rules of Life

For some time now, I've begun to visualize the next stage of my life.  I've been fantasizing about cozy cottages with fireplaces,  porches and plenty of room for books and guests.  I guess I'm not the only aging boomer who thinks about retiring part-time to the country.  Witness Cottage Living a new magazine  which has some wonderful cottage floor plans and other yummy stuff.

There's a definite southern focus which makes sense since the company also publishes Southern Living.  Is it just me or do southerners and the English understand cottages the best.  I found Autumn Cottage, one of those engaging l sites by Roz Cawley who lives in a  300 year old cottage in Hampshire.  Roz  wants to share her delight in the English countryside, her passion for miniature houses and some collected rules of life. 

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
2. Memorize your favorite poem.
3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
4. When you say, "I love you", mean it.
5. When you say, "I'm sorry", look the person in the eye.
6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
7. Believe in love at first sight.
8. Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only  way to live life completely.
10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
11. Don't judge people by their relatives. -- We are NOT all alike......
12. Talk slow but think quick.
13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and  ask, "Why do you want to know?".
14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
15. Call your mom. Or some one you love
16. Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
17. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
18. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
19. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
20. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to  correct it. SAY I'M SORRY MORE.......
21. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
22. Marry a man you love to talk to. As you get older, his  conversational skills will be as important as any other.
23. Spend some time alone.
24. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
25. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
26. Read more books and watch less TV.
27. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back,  you'll get to enjoy it a second time.
28. Trust in God but lock your car.
29. A loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to  create a tranquil harmonious home.
30. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation.  Don't bring up the past.
31. Read between the lines.
32. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
33. Be gentle with the earth.
34. Pray, there's immeasurable power in it.
35. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
36. Mind your own business.
37. Don't trust a man who doesn't close his eyes when you kiss him.
38. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
39. If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you  are living. That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.
40. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.
41. Learn the rules then break some.
42. Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each  other is greater than your need for each other.
43. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
44. Remember that your character is your destiny.
45. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:48 AM | Permalink

January 11, 2005

The Power of Emotional Intelligence

When Daniel Goleman speaks of Emotional Intelligence, he's talking about what used to be called "character development,"  what used to be an essential component of education.  Emotionally intelligent people often are far more successful than smarter people with much higher IQs and emotionally intelligent children often have much higher SAT scores than those who can't delay gratification writes Julia Steiny in the Providence Journal.  

She writes about a amazing marshmallow test involving four-year-olds and a follow-up 12-14 years later with the same children as she ponders how emotional intelligence can leverage existing school lessons and make schools a happier place to be.
 
Steiny, now a consultant, summarizes Goleman's five basic skills to achieve emotional intelligence:

1. Knowing one's emotions, or self-awareness. People who recognize their feelings as they happen are better pilots of their own lives, 'having a surer sense of how they really feel about personal decisions from whom to marry to what job to take.'
2. Managing emotions. Poor emotional managers constantly battle feelings of distress, while good ones bounce back from life's setbacks and upsets.
3. Motivating oneself. People who can control their impulses can channel their energies to meet their own goals.
4. Recognizing emotions in others, or empathy. People who are attuned to how others feel get along well with people.
5. Handling relationships, or social competence. "People skills" allow us to get and give to each other with maximal gratification.

All children, but especially adolescents, crave information about how to manage and understand their inner worlds. Merely allowing the use of emotional language and examining interpersonal issues can make otherwise dry historical or literary materials much more alive and compelling. Indeed, the above five features of emotional intelligence seem like natural tools to unlock literature, for example, in a way that would help modern students understand the desires, frustrations, rages and thrills of people in other places, times and historical circumstances.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 PM | Permalink

After the Flood, Stories of Hope

Beliefnet has started a blog to collect stories of survival, generosity and the strength of the human spirit in the wake of the tsunami disaster.  Called After the Flood, Stories of Hope, the blog is compiled from AP sources by Holly Lebowitz Rossi.

I want to add two others I've collected. The family saved by their towels.  A British tourist described yesterday how he had saved his wife and children from the onslaught of the tsunami by tying them like Christmas decorations to the top of a palm tree.

Alive: mother who ran towards death  A MOTHER’S selfless instinct, running towards almost certain death as the giant wave advanced on her three children, was one of the most striking images to emerge from the disaster. It seemed inconceivable that either the blonde mother running towards the sea as all others fled, or her family, could escape alive. But last night Karin Svard described from her home in northern Sweden how she and her three sons Anton, 14, Filip, 11, and Viktor, 10, escaped alive from the tumbling wall of water on Hat Rai Lay beach in Krabi, Thailand, where at least 200 people died.“I could see this white wall coming towards me and it was coming faster. I did not care, I was looking at my children. I wanted to hold them and care for them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:29 AM | Permalink

January 7, 2005

This year Financial Fitness

Jonathan Drucker has Seven steps to financial fitness for 2005.  They are:

  1. Start saving more. 
  2. Rethink real estate
  3. Trim credit card debt
  4. Reevaluate your portfolio
  5. Update your insurance and will
  6. Stick to a budget
  7. Develop an emergency fund

Read what he says about each one.

As Will Rogers said, "The time to save is now.  When a dog gets a bond, he doesn't go out and make a down payment on a bigger bone.  He buries the one he's got. "

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 PM | Permalink

January 6, 2005

Medical blogs on cancer and diabetes

Two new medical blogs have come to my attention.  The cancer blog covers cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

There I found about that MedicAlert the manufacturer of medical alert bracelets and tags just announced they will sell a USB device with medical information that can contain far more detailed medical information even a complete and organized medical history and images of ECGs at a price of $50-$75.

The diabetes blog covers diabetes testing, treatment and prevention. Written by Paul Chaney whose wife has diabetes, its other focus is to provide educational resources for people with diabetes and those that care for them.  He's now soliciting stories from those afflicted or concerned with diabetes to share their experiences to help others.

A wonderful way to become more involved and be supported by helping others.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

January 5, 2005

More grief

When I asked my late husband Jack what the news was, he'd reply, "More grief."  That's what I think when I read the news from Southeast Asia.  Waves and waves of more grief.

The dead have to be buried again. 

In Thailand, in a frantic effort, some 200 forensic experts from 19 different countries,  they are exhuming dead bodies that were mislabeled and given the wrong tags in the haste to bury them. 

At one temple on the outskirts of Patong, several hundred bodies lay on the ground, covered by tarpaulin and body bags while another hundred lay exposed as they were sprayed with disinfectant.

There are whole villages lost, whole families lost... 

Anthony Richard, a native of Sri Lanka moved to British Columbia 11 years ago.    He learned that 72 of his relatives are missing and presumed dead. "They are gone. A whole generation wiped out."

The predators have come out. 

There are the inevitable email scams from the people who brought you Nigerian widows.  More worrying are the Child trafficking concerns which are adding to tsunami woes.  A Swedish father whose son disappeared after the tsunami believes a sex ring has stolen his son.  His U.S. Marine grandfather is on the case.  There are reports of gang rape, rapists attack homeless women and children

The sea has become a cemetery for many Sri Lankans. Now people hate the sea - they hate it,"

So what else has The Great Wave brought.

The Great Wave

via The American Digest  who also brings a report on how to build a global internet tsunami warning system in a month.

There's been a  wave of compassion from around the world.

The over wheming generosity of individuals and corporations  who will likely outdo their governments in the amount of donations.  In one week's time Americans have donated $236 million dollars in private contributions.

Even Hollywood stars are chipping in $1 million a piece according to Ann Althouse who doesn't have permalinks 

Sandra Bullock has donated $1 million for tsunami relief. So has Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, and Jennifer Lopez: you're going to have to give one million ... or you're stingy!

At this rate, Hollywood stars are going to donate more than Saudi Arabia.

A global consciousness is surely being formed.  Globalization has made distant disasters seem close at home.  To Those Seeking Help and Giving It, Computer Is a Lifeline.  But it's the blogs, many newly set up that are providing the first-person, on-the-scene accounts.  They are our eyes and ears.  From Evelyn Rodriguez, they are Witnessing from the Heart .

While the UN is sending bureaucrats, the US Military is doing extraordinary work.  From the Diplomad who also quotes the following Dutch situation report.

The US military has arrived and is clearly establishing its presence everywhere in Banda Aceh. They completely have taken over the military hospital, which was a mess until yesterday but is now completely up and running. They brought big stocks of medicines, materials for the operation room, teams of doctors, water and food. Most of the patients who were lying in the hospital untreated for a week have undergone medical treatment by the US teams by this afternoon. US military have unloaded lots of heavy vehicles and organize the logistics with Indonesian military near the airport. A big camp is being set up at a major square in the town. Huge generators are ready to provide electricity. US helicopters fly to places which haven't been reached for the whole week and drop food. The impression it makes on the people is also highly positive; finally something happens in the city of Banda Aceh and finally it seems some people are in control and are doing something. No talking but action. European countries are until now invisible on the ground. 

Finally via the The Anchoress,  is an extraordinary report of Frank Martin who finally let loose after his European colleagues made fun of George Bush for sending an aircraft carrier to the disaster scene.  When the room fell silent, his Hindi friend added,

Can you let your hatred of George Bush end for just one minute? There are people dying! And what are your countries doing? Amazon.com has helped more than France has. You all have a role to play in the world, why can't you see that? Thank God for the US Navy, they dont have to come and help, but they are. They helped you once and you should all thank God they did. They didnt have to, and no one but them would have done so. I'm ashamed of you all...
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

Good Doctors Leave Good Tracks

From the Cheerful Oncologist,, learn how Good Doctors Leave Good Tracks, an imprint that reveals the depth and worth of the doctor's effort.   

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:54 AM | Permalink

The Top Ten Unfounded Health Scares of 2004:

The Top Ten Unfounded Health Scares of 2004 according to the  American Council on Science and Health

  • Pediatric Vaccines and Autism
  • PCBs in Salmon and Cancer
  • Cell Phones Cause Brain Tumors
  • Nightlights and Leukemia
  • Chemicals in Cosmetics
  • Mercury in Seafood Causes Neurological Problems in Humans
  • Cheeseburgers and Cardiovascular Disease
  • Antibiotics Cause Breast Cancer
  • Teflon Causes Health Problems in Humans
  • Soda Causes Esophagael Cancer

Dishonorable Mention

  • Deodorants, Antiperspriants Cause Breast Cancer
  • Plastics Cause Cancer
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 AM | Permalink

January 1, 2005

Curry cures Alzheimer's?

India has one of the lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world.  Now scientists think it's the curry.


Curcumin, the yellow pigment in curry spice may be a potential agent to fight against Alzheimer's, according to researchers at the University of California at Irvine.

The new UCLA-Veterans Affairs study involving genetically altered mice suggests that curcumin, the yellow pigment in curry spice, inhibits the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and also breaks up existing plaques. 

The research team also determined curcumin is more effective in inhibiting formation of the protein fragments than many other drugs being tested as Alzheimer's treatments. 

"Curcumin has been used for thousands of years as a safe anti-inflammatory in a variety of ailments as part of Indian traditional medicine," Gregory Cole, Professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine
at UCLA said.

via Boingboing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:30 PM | Permalink

If you could live your life over

People over 65 were asked, 'If you could live your life over, what  would you do differently?'  They said three things:  'I'd take time to stop and ask the big questions.  I'd be more courageous and take more risks in work and love.  I'd try to live with purpose--to make a difference.'

Richard Leider, founding partner of the Inventure Group

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 AM | Permalink